Interested in trying biking to work but don’t know how to ride a bike in a city safely nor how to show up at their office looking presentable? Read on, and get ready for National Bike to Work Week, May 12-16, 2014.
Let’s get started with safety:
#1 Be Predictable
Do not weave in and out of parked and/or moving cars, do not make sudden turns or stops, do not suddenly dart across intersections when it is not your turn. In other words, simply behave on your bike like you would in a car if you were taking a driving test that you really needed to pass. Riding predictably is the best way to help cars and people anticipate your movements and respect your space.
#2 Be Prepared
If you are truly a newbie, don’t take your maiden voyage during rush hour traffic. Plan ahead by getting familiar to biking near cars and on city streets. First, go to a quiet side street and ride alongside the parked cars, always staying 3-4 feet from the car doors (or, out of the “door zone”). Once you feel comfortable biking near parked cars, think about what route would you suggest to a scared teenager driving for the first time. This way probably has the fewest cars and most stop signs, making it the best for biking. Don your helmet and go that way.
#3 Be Seen
This is important in both day and night. Make sure you sit tall while riding so that you are most visible to drivers. If you ride at night, be sure to have good lights and reflective bits on your bike. Reflective clothing is good too, but that doesn’t mean you have to look like a safety guard. There are lots of fashionable reflective options on the market now, visit our Pinterest board for inspiration.
#4 Be Communicative
We may not be good at reading minds, but we are good at reading looks and gestures! Make eye contact with other bicyclists, drivers (use their side mirrors!) and pedestrians whenever possible to establish that connection. Signal your movements with your arms very deliberately so that there can be no misunderstanding of what you are doing.
Now, moving on to what to ride…
What about helmet hair? Use a texturizing clay or dry shampoo to restore your hair’s volume and texture after you remove your helmet. Women can also try a loose braided hairstyle that stays flat under a helmet and still looks good if it gets messy.
Won’t I get sweaty and/or stinky? Yes, but not as much as you may think, especially if you ride at a comfortable pace. On particularly hot days, quickly lower your body temperature when you get to work by standing in front of a fan or air conditioner. Many offices have showers, but if you don’t, Action Wipes will restore a shower fresh feeling when you arrive.
Any additional questions, please send my way. Have a wonderful spring and summer full of many wonderful rides and adventures. Here are some additional resources for you:
Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue about how to ride for transit
Let’s Go Ride a Bike blog with great how-to’s and photos
Momentum Magazine is packed full of features for city riders
Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips by Wordspace Press
VeloJoy is a great resource for both new & experienced riders